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Category Archives: Ticheli, Frank

Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition at the USC Thornton School of Music and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  He is the recipient of many awards, including first prize in the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2and a 2012 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Rest came about in two stages.  It was originally written as a choral piece, There Will Be Rest, composed in 1999 and based on a poem of the same name by Sara Teasdale.  According to Ticheli it was “dedicated to the memory of Cole Carsan St. Clair, the son of my dear friends, conductor Carl St. Clair and his wife, Susan.”  The band version came about in 2010, the result of a commission from Russel Mikkelson and his family in memory of their father, Elling Mikkelson.  Ticheli provides the following program note:

Created in 2010, Rest is a concert band adaptation of my work for SATB chorus, There Will Be Rest, which was commissioned in 1999 by the Pacific Chorale, John Alexander, conductor.

In making this version, I preserved almost everything from the original: harmony, dynamics, even the original registration.  I also endeavored to preserve carefully the fragile beauty and quiet dignity suggested by Sara Teasdale’s words.

However, with the removal of the text, I felt free to enhance certain aspects of the music, most strikingly with the addition of a sustained climax on the main theme.  This extended climax allows the band version to transcend the expressive boundaries of a straight note-for-note setting of the original.  Thus, both versions are intimately tied and yet independent of one another, each possessing its own strengths and unique qualities.

The original poem:

There will be rest, and sure stars shining
Over the roof-tops crowned with snow,
A reign of rest, serene forgetting,
The music of stillness holy and low.
I will make this world of my devising
Out of a dream in my lonely mind.
I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me
Stars I shall find.

The band version:

And the choral original:

You can look at a virtual score and hear a recording at the same time here.

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on Wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

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Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition at the USC Thornton School of Music and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  He is the recipient of many awards, including first prize in the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2and a 2012 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Ticheli wrote Simple Gifts: Four Shaker Songs in 2002 on a commission from the Tapp Middle School Band in Powder Springs, Georgia, and their director, Erin Cole.  He provides extensive program notes in the score, which are also quoted on the Manhattan Beach Music website (which also features full recordings of the entire piece).  Here are the relevant bits, written by Ticheli himself (with links added by me):

THE SHAKERS

The Shakers were a religious sect who splintered from a Quaker community in the mid-1700’s in Manchester, England. Known then derisively as “Shaking Quakers” because of the passionate shaking that would occur during their religious services, they were viewed as radicals, and their members were sometimes harassed and even imprisoned by the English. One of those imprisoned, Ann Lee, was named official leader of the church upon her release in 1772. Two years later, driven by her vision of a holy sanctuary in the New World, she led a small group of followers to the shores of America where they founded a colony in rural New York.

The Shakers were pacifists who kept a very low profile, and their membership increased only modestly during the decades following their arrival. At their peak in the 1830’s, there were some 6,000 members in nineteen communities interspersed between Maine and Kentucky. Soon after the Civil War their membership declined dramatically. Their practice of intense simplicity and celibacy accounts for much of their decline.

Today there is only one active Shaker community remaining, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine. They maintain a Shaker Library, a Shaker Museum, and a website at www.shaker.lib.me.us.

The Shakers were known for their architecture, crafts, furniture, and perhaps most notably, their songs. Shaker songs were traditionally sung in unison without instrumental accompaniment. Singing and dancing were vital components of Shaker worship and everyday life. Over 8,000 songs in some 800 songbooks were created, most of them during the 1830’s to 1860’s in Shaker communities throughout New England.

THE CREATION OF SIMPLE GIFTS: FOUR SHAKER SONGS

My work is built from four Shaker melodies – a sensuous nature song, a lively dance tune, a tender lullaby, and most famously, “Simple Gifts,” the hymn that celebrates the Shaker’s love of simplicity and humility. In setting these songs, I sought subtle ways to preserve their simple, straightforward beauty. Melodic freshness and interest were achieved primarily through variations of harmony, of texture, and especially, of orchestration.

The first movement is a setting of “In Yonder Valley”, generally regarded to be the oldest surviving Shaker song with text. This simple hymn in praise of nature is attributed to Father James Whittaker (1751 – 87), a member of the small group of Shakers who emigrated to America in 1774. My setting enhances the image of spring by turning the first three notes of the tune into a birdcall motive.

The second movement, “Dance,” makes use of a tune from an 1830’s Shaker manuscript. Dancing was an important part of Shaker worship, and tunes such as this were often sung by a small group of singers while the rest of the congregation danced. One interesting feature in my setting occurs near the end of the movement, when the brasses state the tune at one-quarter speed in counterpoint against the woodwinds who state it at normal speed.

The third movement is based on a Shaker lullaby, “Here Take This Lovely Flower,” found in Dorothy Berliner Commin’s extraordinary collection, Lullabies of the World, and in Daniel W. Patterson’s monumental collection, The Shaker Spiritual. This song is an example of the phenomenon of the gift song, music received from spirits by Shaker mediums while in trance (see pp. 316 ff. in Patterson, op cit., for a detailed account, and also Harold E. Cook’s Shaker Music: A Manifestation of American Folk Culture, pp. 52 ff.). Although the Shakers practiced celibacy, there were many children in their communities, including the children of recent converts as well as orphans whom they took in. Like many Shaker songs, this lullaby embodies the Shakers’ ideal of childlike simplicity.

The finale is a setting of the Shakers’ most famous song, “Simple Gifts,” sometimes attributed to Elder Joseph Bracket (1797 – 1882) of the Alfred, Maine community, and also said (in Lebanon, New York, manuscript) as having been received from a Negro spirit at Canterbury, New Hampshire, making “Simple Gifts” possibly a visionary gift song. It has been used in hundreds of settings, most notably by Aaron Copland in the brilliant set of variations which conclude his Appalachian Spring. Without ever quoting him, my setting begins at Copland’s doorstep, and quickly departs. Throughout its little journey, the tune is never abandoned, rarely altered, always exalted.

He also provides the lyrics for each song he uses:

In Yonder Valley
In yonder valley there flows sweet union;
Let us arise and drink our fill.
The winter’s past and the spring appears;
The turtle dove is in our land.
In yonder valley there flows sweet union;
Let us arise, and drink our fill.

Dance
Virgins cloth’d in a clean white garment,
How they move in a band of love,
Comforts flow in a mighty current,
We shall drink at the fountains above.

Yea, we will rejoice with freedom,
In this straight little narrow way,
Here is the fold and the lambs all feeding,
On this green we’ll skip and play.

Here Take this Lovely Flower
Here take this lovely flower
Thy mother sent to thee,
Cull’d from her lovely bower
Of sweet simplicity.

O place it near thy bosom
And keep it pure and bright,
For in such lovely flowers
The angels take delight.

Simple Gifts
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free;
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be;
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right.

The best YouTube performance of Simple Gifts comes in four separate videos, one for each movement, so that is how I will look at them, with the source material following each movement.  Here is the first, “In Yonder Valley”:

Like bands, choirs also love Shaker songs.  Here is a university chorus performing “In Yonder Valley”.  Listen especially for how the words fall within the melody:

Ticheli calls the second movement “Dance”:

The best you can do to hear a vocal version of this is follow this link to hear Joel Cohen and his group sing a bit of it, under the title “Virgins Cloth’d in a Clean White Garment.”

Movement III is the sweet song “Here Take This Lovely Flower”:

Again, a choir puts the words to the music for us:

The final movement is based on perhaps the most famous of all the Shaker songs, “Simple Gifts”:

Here it is again, done simply by the Phoenix Boys Choir:

As Ticheli mentions in his notes, Aaron Copland helped to make “Simple Gifts” as famous as it is by using it in his 1944 ballet Appalachian Spring.  For any composer looking to set “Simple Gifts”, Copland’s version is the elephant in the room, yet Ticheli does assert his independence quite well.  Listen and compare:

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

Joy and Joy Revisited both appeared in 2005.  They are companion pieces based on the same material, with Joy being geared for younger players and Joy Revisited designed for a more mature ensemble.  As usual, Ticheli describes his thinking in the scores:

Above all, Joy is an expression of its namesake: simple, unabashed joy.

A boisterous, uninhibited quality is implied in the music, not only at climactic moments, but also by the frequent presence of sudden and dramatic stylistic contrasts. The main melody and overall mood of the work (and its companion piece, Joy Revisited) were inspired by a signal event: the birth of our first child. The intense feelings that most any father would feel on such a day were, in my case, accompanied by a simple little tune which grabbed hold of me in the hours preceding her birth, and refused to let go throughout the day and many days thereafter. Indeed, until I jotted it down in my sketchbook, it did not release its grip.

Seven years and two children later, I stumbled upon that old sketch and discovered (or rediscovered) that it would serve perfectly as the foundation for a joy-filled concert band overture.

About Joy and Joy Revisited

Joy, and its companion piece, Joy Revisited, are the results of an experiment I have been wanting to try for many years: the creation of two works using the same general melodic, harmonic, and expressive content. In other words, I endeavored to compose un-identical twins, two sides of the same coin – but with one major distinction: Joy was created with young players in mind, while Joy Revisited was aimed at more advanced players.

Thus, Joy is more straightforward than its companion piece. Where Joy sounds a dominant chord (as in the upbeat to measure 10), Joy Revisited elaborates upon that chord with a flourish of 16th-notes. While Joy Revisited moves faster, develops ideas further, and makes use of a wider register, Joy is more concise.

Despite these and many more differences between the two works, both come from the same essential cut of cloth, both were composed more or less simultaneously, and both were born out of the same source of inspiration. In short, Joy and Joy Revisited serve as two expressions of the feelings experienced by one expectant father (who happens also to be a composer) on one wonderfully anxious and exciting day.

Here’s a nice professional recording of Joy:

And a comparable rendition of Joy Revisited.  The parallels between the two pieces are clear, as are the more rigorous challenges of the latter:

Ticheli’s publisher hosts a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music on their website – quite a find!  Click the links for more from them on Joy and Joy Revisited.

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

For those who have forgotten, here’s my short bio on Frank Ticheli: Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

Blue Shades (1996) was my introduction to Frank Ticheli and his music back when I played it (2nd trumpet) with the Dartmouth Wind Symphony in 2000.  I’ve seen a lot of his music since then, and I still think it’s one of his best.  Ticheli talks eloquently about the piece and its origins in the score:

In 1992 I composed a concerto for traditional jazz band and orchestra, Playing With Fire, for the Jim Cullum Jazz Band and the San Antonio Symphony.  That work was composed as a celebration of the traditional jazz music I heard so often while growing up near New Orleans.

I experienced tremendous joy during the the creation of Playing With Fire, and my love for early jazz is expressed in every bar of the concerto.  However, after completing it I knew that the traditional jazz influences dominated the work, leaving little room for my own musical voice to come through.  I felt a strong need to compose another work, one that would combine my love of early jazz with my own musical style.

Four years, and several compositions later, I finally took the opportunity to realize that need by composing Blue Shades.  As its title suggests, the work alludes to the Blues, and a jazz feeling is prevalent–however, it is not literally a Blues piece.  There is not a single 12-bar blues progression to be found, and except for a few isolated sections, the eighth-note is not swung.

The work, however, is heavily influenced by the Blues.: “Blue notes” (flatted 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths) are used constantly; Blues harmonies, rhythms, and melodic idioms pervade the work; and many “shades of blue” are depicted, from bright blue, to dark, to dirty, to hot blue.

At times, Blue Shade burlesques some of the cliches from the Big Band era, not as a mockery of those conventions, but as a tribute. A slow and quiet middle section recalls the atmosphere of a dark, smoky blues haunt.  An extended clarinet solo played near the end recalls Benny Goodman’s hot playing style, and ushers in a series of “wailing” brass chords recalling the train whistle effects commonly used during that era.

He goes on to say that the minor 3rd is the most important interval in the piece, showing up in various accompaniment figures and in every major melodic theme.  The piece even starts with that message in mind: the first nine intervals are all minor thirds!  Listen to this nearly perfect (though they don’t swing quite enough at 14) recording of the North Texas Wind Symphony playing it, and you’ll see what I mean:

And here’s the Columbia Wind Ensemble playing it in December 2007.  We’re not North Texas, but as I look at that video, I see one of the most legendary front rows in CUWE history!  Fair warning – this was recorded from the front row of the audience on a camcorder.

Now let’s look at some of the background in that program note: Ticheli talks about how there is no 12-bar blues in the piece, yet it’s full of blue notes, those in-between pitches usually found at the 3rd, 5th, and 7th.  To illustrate where that comes from, here’s John Lee Hooker:

The smoky jazz club of the center section has its roots in slow blues.  Ticheli even calls it “Dirty” in the score.  So, here’s some nice, dirty, slow burlesque-type blues.  This will give you an idea of the sound you’re after.  I would show a dance to go along with it, but many of those are too PG-13 for this space.  Suffice it to say, this section should sound like hair-tossing!

The clarinet solo was inspired by Benny Goodman.  So here’s the man himself:

Finally, Ticheli uses a train whistle effect in the brass wails towards the end of the piece.  You can hear bits and pieces of that in the Chattanooga Choo-Choo as performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra:

Ticheli’s publisher hosts a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music on their website – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

For those who have forgotten, here’s my short bio on Frank Ticheli: Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

I thought for 4th of July weekend I would write about an America-themed piece, so Ticheli’s An American Elegy rose to the top of the pile.  But this is not your usual patriotic jaunt, brimming with a clear sense of independent spirit.  In fact, it’s a piece with a rather emotionally-complicated origin that’s difficult to write about.  On April 20, 1999, 2 students at Columbine high school in Colorado began a shooting rampage at their school that would kill 12 students and 1 teacher and injure 21 others.  It stopped when the 2 gunmen committed suicide.  Look here for more details.  To call it a tragedy is an understatement – it shook up the whole country and, at least momentarily, brought a host of issues about teenagers, bullying, and guns (to name a few) to the forefront of our national attention.  An American Elegy was born as part of the healing process from this terrible event.  Frank Ticheli himself describes it best:

An American Elegy was commissioned by the Columbine Commissioning Fund, a special project sponsored by the Alpha Iota Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at the University of Colorado on behalf of the Columbine High School Band. Contributors to the Fund included members, chapters, alumni, and friends of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Fraternity and Sorority.

The work received its premiere performance by the Columbine High School Band, William Biskup, director, Frank Ticheli, guest conductor, on April 23, 2000. Its premiere served as the centerpiece of a special commemorative concert given by the Columbine High School Band in conjunction with the University of Colorado Wind Symphony, held at Macky Hall in Boulder, Colorado.

An American Elegy is, above all, an expression of hope. It was composed in memory of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, and to honor the survivors. It is offered as a tribute to their great strength and courage in the face of a terrible tragedy. I hope the work can also serve as one reminder of how fragile and precious life is and how intimately connected we all are as human beings.

I was moved and honored by this commission invitation, and deeply inspired by the circumstances surrounding it. Rarely has a work revealed itself to me with such powerful speed and clarity.  The first eight bars of the main melody came to me fully formed in a dream. Virtually every element of the work was discovered within the span of about two weeks.  The remainder of my time was spent refining, developing, and orchestrating.

The work begins at the bottom of the ensemble’s register, and ascends gradually to a heartfelt cry of hope. The main theme that follows, stated by the horns, reveals a more lyrical, serene side of the piece. A second theme, based on a simple repeated harmonic pattern, suggest yet another, more poignant mood. These three moods — hope, serenity, and sadness — become intertwined throughout the work, defining its complex expressive character.  A four-part canon builds to a climactic quotation of the Columbine Alma Mater.  The music recedes, and an offstage trumpeter is heard, suggesting a celestial voice — a heavenly message. The full ensemble returns with a final, exalted statement of the main theme.

You can find out more about Frank Ticheli at these links:

Ticheli’s publisher hosts a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music on their website – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

Now here’s a YouTube performance, and a mighty good one at that:

One final note: if you’re programming this piece now (or at any time after I’m putting this up), consider that most high schoolers now are barely old enough to remember the Columbine shootings.  That was 1999.  As of 2011, the kids who were in kindergarten then have just finished high school!  Soon enough, high school kids will have been born after Columbine!  So please, follow the intent of this site and give your players the context for this piece.  It’s not easy to talk about, but it’s important that they understand the emotional place that gives rise to music like this and gives it meaning.

These Ticheli posts are getting a little formulaic.  But he’s written so much music, and we need all the facts.  So here we go again!

Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

As usual, Ticheli provides his own program note for 2011’s San Antonio Dances that neatly sums up its meaning for him and its musical inspiration:

San Antonio Dances was composed as a tribute to a special city, whose captivating blend of Texan and Hispanic cultural influences enriched my life during my three years as a young music professor at Trinity University.  It has been 20 years since I lived in San Antonio, but the city still tugs at my heartstrings and lives in this music.

The first movement depicts the seductively serene Alamo Gardens and its beautiful live oak trees that provide welcome shade from the hot Texas sun.  A tango mood and lazily winding lines give way to a brief but powerful climax depicting the Alamo itself.

The second movement’s lighthearted and joyous music celebrates San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk.  Inspired by the streets and canals of Venice, Italy, architect Robert Hugman proposed his idea of converting the San Antonio riverfront into a beautiful urban park back in the 1920s.  It took decades to complete, but the Riverwalk eventually became a reality–a 2 1/2 mile stretch of stunningly landscaped waterfront lined with hotels, restaurants, night clubs and shops.

Picture a group of friends seated at an outdoor patio of one of the Riverwalk’s many Tex-Mex restaurants, enjoying the scenery, the food, the company.  In time, the evening settles in, the air cools, the mood brightens, the crowd picks up, and music is heard from every direction.  Before you know it, the whole place is one giant fiesta that could go on forever.

Viva San Antonio!

Ticheli’s publisher hosts a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music on their website – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

A Texas honor band plays San Antonio Dances:

Now take a look at some pictures: here are the Alamo Gardens, then the Riverwalk.

Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

Ticheli’s 1999 composition Shenandoah is based on an American folk song of the same name whose popularity has not been dimmed by its uncertain origin and meaning – more on that in a minute.  Ticheli himself aptly describes how this song inspired his work for band:

In my setting of Shenandoah I was inspired by the freedom and beauty of the folk melody and by the natural images evoked by the words, especially the image of a river.  I was less concerned with the sound of a rolling river than with its life-affirming energy – its timelessness.  Sometimes the accompaniment flows quietly under the melody; other times it breathes alongside it.  The work’s mood ranges from quiet reflection, through growing optimism, to profound exaltation.

He also gives some historical background on the song:

The Shenandoah Valley and the Shenandoah River are located in Virginia.  There is disagreement among historians concerning the origins of their names.  Some claim that the river and valley were named in  the 1750’s by the Cherokee as a friendly tribute to a visiting Iroquois Chief named Skenandoah.  Others suggest that the region was named not by the Cherokee, but by the Senedo Indians of the Virginia Valley.  In the Senedo tradition, Shenandoah means “daughter of the moon”, and bears no relation to the Iroquois Chief Skenandoah.

The origins of the folk song are equally obscure, but all date to the 19th century.  It has been attributed variously to a coal miner in Pennsylvania, a young protege of Stephen Foster, and to a housewife in Lexington, Kentucky [ed: also to Native Americans or French-Canadian sailors!]. Many variants on the melody and text have been handed down through the years, the most popular telling the story of an early settler’s love for a Native American woman.

More info on Ticheli’s version of Shenandoah can be found here, at his publisher’s website.  This site is also home to a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

An anonymous band plays Shenandoah:

A vocal version by the Choir of New College, Oxford:

Shenandoah National Park’s video page can give you some idea of the natural beauty that inspired this music.  The photo slideshow on the Shenandoah Valley tourism page isn’t bad either!

Info about the original song Shenandoah on wikipedia.

Finally, one possible set of lyrics to the original tune.  Many versions exist, this is just one of them (from lyricstime.com):

O Shenando’ I long to hear you,
Away, you rolling river
O Shenando’ I long to hear you
Away, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri

O Shenando’ I long to see you
Away you rolling river
O Shenando’ I long to see you
Away, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri

‘Tis seven years since I have seen you
To hear your rolling river
O Shenando’ I long to see you
Away, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri

O Shenando’ I’ll not forget you
I’ll dream of your clear waters
O Shenando’ you’re in my mem’ry
Away, we’re bound away, across the wide Missouri

Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

Ticheli’s own program note best encapsulates the impetus for his version of Amazing Grace:

I wanted my setting of AMAZING GRACE to reflect the powerful simplicity of the words and melody – to be sincere, to be direct, to be honest – and not through the use of novel harmonies and clever tricks, but by traveling traditional paths in search of truth and authenticity.

I believe that music has the power to take us to a place that words alone cannot. And so my own feelings about “Amazing Grace” reside in this setting itself. The harmony, texture, orchestration, and form are inseparable, intertwined so as to be perceived as a single expressive entity.

The spiritual, “Amazing Grace,” was written by John Newton (1725-1807), a slaveship captain who, after years of transporting slaves across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World, suddenly saw through divine grace the evilness of his acts. First published in 1835 by William Walker in The Southern Harmony, “Amazing Grace” has since grown to become one of the most beloved of all American spirituals.

The Manhattan Beach Music recording of AMAZING GRACE is performed by the California State University at Fullerton Wind Ensemble, Mitchell Fennell, conductor, Frank Ticheli, guest conductor. AMAZING GRACE was commissioned by John Whitwell in loving memory of his father, John Harvey Whitwell. It was first performed on February 10, 1994 by the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, John Whitwell conductor.

Frank Ticheli
Pasadena, California
May 11, 1994

More info on Ticheli’s version of Amazing Grace can be found here, at his publisher’s website.  This site is also home to a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

An anonymous band plays Amazing Grace:

There is also a version of Amazing Grace arranged by William Himes:

Info about the original song Amazing Grace on wikipedia.

Finally, the lyrics to the original tune of Amazing Grace, by John Newton (1725-1807).

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

Ticheli provides his own program note for Nitro:

Nitro, an energy-charged three-minute fanfare for band, was commissioned by the Northshore Concert Band, Mallory Thompson, music director, in celebration of their 50th anniversary season, and received its premiere performance by them on April 9th, 2006.

Nitrogen is the most abundant component of the Earth’s atmosphere (78 per cent by volume), and is present in the tissues of every living thing. It is the fifth most abundant element in the universe, created by the fusion deep within stars; it has recently been detected in interstellar space. The sheer prevalence of nitrogen in all of nature, and the infinite range of compounds it is part of — life-giving, energizing, healing, cleansing, explosive — all appealed to me, and served as the inspiration for my music.

The main musical idea for Nitro is a powerful, angular theme, first announced by the trombones and horns, and then imitated in the trumpets. Trumpet fanfare calls and a busy and relentless chattering in the woodwinds enhance the bright, festive mood.

The middle section is based on a woodwind theme that is partly fanfare-like, partly dance-like. This contrasting theme is built from intervals occurring in the natural overtone series (octave and twelfth), giving it an expansive, open-air quality. The main theme reappears, growing in power and density all the while, building to a thunderous conclusion.

Frank Ticheli

More info on Nitro can be found here, at Ticheli’s publisher’s website.  This site is also home to a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

Now here’s Texas All State band:

Educated at the University of Michigan, composer Frank Ticheli (b. 1958) has become one of the biggest names in new wind band repertoire.  Since 1991 he has been a Professor of Composition USC-Thornton and, until 1998, Composer in Residence of the Pacific Symphony.  The recipient of many awards, he was most recently winner of the 2006 NBA/William D. Revelli Memorial Band Composition Contest for his Symphony No. 2.

Ticheli’s own program note best describes his intent in writing Vesuvius:

Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed Pompeii in A.D. 79, is an icon of power and energy in this work.  Originally I had in mind a wild and passionate dance such as might have been performed at an ancient Roman Bacchanalia.  During the compositional process, I began to envision something more explosive and fiery.  With its driving rhythms, exotic modes, and quotations from the Dies Irae from the medieval Requiem Mass, it became evident that the Bacchanalia I was writing could represent a dance from the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii.

More info on Ticheli’s Vesuvius can be found here, at his publisher’s website.  This site is also home to a complete, downloadable set of mp3s of the vast majority of his large ensemble music – quite a find!

Frank Ticheli’s personal website, Frankticheli.com.

Ticheli bio on wikipedia.

Frank Ticheli’s Facebook fanclub.

A video interview with Ticheli in which he talks about composing.

An anonymous band plays Vesuvius:

Want to know more about Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius?  Check it out on wikipedia.